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Electro-acupuncture (EA) demonstrates greater short- and long-term benefits for chronic discogenic sciatica than medium-frequency electrotherapy (MFE - similar to transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation or TENS). Chinese researchers randomised 100 participants to receive either EA or MFE over a four-week period. Treatments in both groups were performed once daily for five sessions per week for the first two weeks, followed by three sessions per week for the following two weeks. Both techniques used Dachangshu BL-25 on the affected side along with bilateral Huatuojiaji (M-BW-35) points. At the end of four weeks of treatment, mean change in leg pain scores was significantly better for EA compared with MFE (reduction in leg pain score of 2.3 for EA versus 1.06 for MFE). The difference between the groups in favour of EA was even more significant at long-term follow-up, 28 weeks from baseline (reduction of 2.12 for EA vs 0.36 for MFW), suggesting that the effect of EA is longer lasting than that of MFW. Low back pain intensity did not differ significantly between the groups.

A Randomized Clinical Trial Comparing the Effectiveness of Electroacupuncture versus Medium-Frequency Electrotherapy for Discogenic Sciatica. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2017;2017:9502718.


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